Canterbury City Council has declared a climate change emergency and set a target to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.
The unanimous, cross-party decision at the Full Council meeting last Thursday (18 July) followed an extensive debate at the Policy and Resources Committee the evening before. Eleven public speakers addressed the committee, which ended with councillors recommending to Full Council that the measures be agreed.
Steps the council will be taking to achieve these include the creation of a Canterbury Climate Change Board to develop a joint action plan with other public organisations and setting aside £500,000 to pay for one-off actions required to meet carbon reduction targets.
Three major projects will also be the focus of the council’s attention in the months and years ahead.
The council will be seeking to ensure its proposed new offices are at least carbon neutral and that refuse trucks and other vehicles for its new bin collection service, and buses in the next park and ride contract, are as environmentally-friendly as possible.
The forthcoming review of the local plan and the transport strategy will also be used to improve the energy efficiency and carbon neutrality of future developments across the district.
A councillor working group will be set up to oversee the council’s approach to climate change, including drawing up a strategy and action plan, and there will be an annual report on the progress that has been made.
Council Leader, Cllr Rob Thomas, said: “This is a hugely significant moment and I am so pleased the council is in complete agreement on this very important issue. The target to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 is a tough one, be in no doubt, but there is a lot of determination to achieve this.
“The way to crack it is to work with local organisations and residents and do this together. We know there is real interest in the community and we’ll be tapping into the knowledge and passion that already exists in order to get the very best results.”
Leader of the council’s Labour group, Cllr Alan Baldock, said: “Labour is proud to have been part of the process of developing the recommendations to drive the tough changes this council must make over just a few short years. But we will need the help of all our communities if we are to meet that challenge.
“To get this journey started we especially hope that one of our recommendations to hold a Citizens’ Assembly on climate change will happen. It will prove to be an exciting opportunity for local people to work through new ideas and solutions.”
Leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Michael Dixey, said: “Climate change is a massive threat to our planet. We look forward to working with colleagues to reduce our district’s carbon emissions, and for Canterbury to become a role model for sustainable development.”